Amoeblog

Happy Birthday, Winsor McCay!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 26, 2010 05:11pm | Post a Comment


Today is the birthday of artist, animator and vaudevillian Winsor McCay, who, were he still alive, would be 139 -- or 144 years old… more on that later. Like many animation pioneers,  McCay's work has been largely overshadowed by his better known successors, Walt Disney and the Fleischer Brothers. But if it weren't for McCay, who knows what they'd have done with their lives. 

 

 

Zenas Winsor McKay was born September 26th -- either in 1871 in Spring Lake, Michigan (according to McCay), or in 1869 in Canada (according to his tombstone), or 1867 in Canada (according to the census). What is not disputed is that he was the son of Robert McKay (later changed to McCay) and Janet Murray McKay. Robert worked variously as a teamster, grocer and real estate agent. They sent him to Cleary's Business College in Ypsilanti, Michigan. At Michigan State Normal College (now Eastern Michigan University), John Goodison (a former glass stainer) taught him the fundamentals of art. McCay moved to Chicago in 1889 with the intention of attending the Art Institute of Chicago. However, unable to afford tuition, he found a job at the National Printing and Engraving Company where he made circus and theatrical posters. In 1901, he moved to Cincinnati, where he worked as an artist for Kohl and Middleton's Vine Street Dime Museum and married Maude Leonore Dufour. 

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(In which the author returns from the hospital.)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 30, 2010 01:53pm | Post a Comment

I'm too sexy for my Intravenous therapy.

Well, dear readers, I have returned to you after an opposite-of-glamorous stay at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where I was hospitalized for five days. In the words of French philosopher Ferdinand de Saussure, “Je n'ai pas aimé cela.”

Art Clokey 1921 - 2010

Posted by Whitmore, January 12, 2010 08:31am | Post a Comment

Art Clokey
, the animator who created Gumby and Davey and Goliath, both coming into being by way of stop motion clay animation, died this last weekend at his home in Los Osos, California. He was 88.
 
Fashioned from a little green slab of clay, Gumby made his television debut in 1956 on The Howdy Doody Show. The following year The Gumby Show premiered. Along with his constant pony pal and sidekick Pokey, together they rambled though what could best be described as a series of gentle but weird LSD trips. Their colorful adventures against a toy strewn landscape often included Gumby's pestering nemseses, The Blockheads. (According to his son, Clokey did try LSD once, but under medical supervision and years after he created Gumby. I like to think he tripped with Cary Grant and Steve Allen.)
 
Though the initial show was short-lived, Gumby enjoyed a comeback in 1961 running through 1968, then again in the 1980s and once again in the 1995 feature film, Gumby: The Movie, also directed by Art Clokey. Eventually 233 episodes were produced. Davey and Goliath, which ran in the 1960’s and 70’s, had over 300 episodes underwritten by the Lutheran Church of America.
 
Born as Arthur Charles Farrington in Detroit on Oct. 12, 1921, he lived with his father after his parents divorced. But at age nine Art’s father was killed in an automobile accident and instead of rejoining his mother, he was placed in an orphanage near Hollywood. Art was adopted sometime later by Joseph Waddell Clokey, an established composer and music professor at Pomona College in Claremont.
 
Art Clokey earned a bachelor’s degree from Miami University in Ohio and later attended Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, intent on becoming an Episcopal priest. He left soon after and entered the University of Southern California, where he studied film with Slavko Vorkapich, a pioneer in modern montage techniques. In 1955, Clokey made a student film, Gumbasia, with animated clay shapes gyrating to a jazz score. The film was the inspiration for the later television series. (The film is included on the DVD Gumby Essentials, released in 2007 by Classic Media.)
 
In 2006 Art Clokey was the subject of a documentary film, Gumby Dharma.
 
Art Clokey’s first marriage, to Ruth Parkander ended in divorce. His second wife, Gloria, died in 1998. He is survived by his son, Joe, a stepdaughter, Holly Harman, and three grandchildren. Another daughter, Ann, died in 1974.

(In which Job & Corey celebrate #3.)

Posted by Job O Brother, January 11, 2010 12:38pm | Post a Comment
Reading sentences is weird, isn’t it? Just the way you’re sitting at your computer right now, scanning these lines of organized scribbles and, as a result, you’re hearing these words in your head – words that I typed on my computer sometime in your past.

All of which is pretty intimate, don’t you think? I mean, you’re trusting me enough to allow whatever I decided to write to enter into your consciousness via language, not necessarily knowing what I’m going to type. I mean, what if I wrote this sentence:

We oftentimes remove the hamster’s eyes and replace them with fresh-churned butter, which allows them to see less and makes their faces smell vaguely of movie theatre concession stands.
First of all, there’s a lot of things about that sentence that're willyish, and what if you’re not in the mood to deal with it? But now you’ve read it and there’s no going back. It’s recorded in your mind forever. Even if you someday forget it (which is almost certainly advisable), it will be catalogued somewhere, there in the delicious depths of your awesome brain.
Anyway, the boyfriend and I just celebrated our third anniversary yesterday. It was swell! The cat and I allowed him to sleep-in until noon, while we spent time organizing my music library and watching birds be weird.


The boyfriend is, I think, deeply troubled by my hobby of collecting music. When I enthusiastically talk about it, I can tell there’s a part of him that’s waiting for my cataloguing of Les Baxter’s compositions to result in my forgetting to eat, for my delight in finding some obscure theatre company’s recording of The Rocky Horror Show to degrade into a lack of personal hygiene, or for my diligent organization of Hüsker Dü tracks into thematic playlists to send me on a downward spiral that will end in my writing a final, frantic Amoeblog post, donning my treasured hoodie, and locking myself into our parking garage for an Anne Sexton-style road trip to oblivion. (Which would sooo never happen. Sylvia Plath all the way! That way, as I slowly succumbed to death from poisoning, I’d be able to enjoy the scent of fresh-baked cookies! Yay!!!)

Suicide is better with a warm batch of Toll House. It just is.



The boyfriend and I celebrated our anniversary by driving around Los Angeles looking for a comfy chair for him. I have decided that he needs a nook – a place in our home that is intended for him to nestle, to cuddle with a book or diary for long hours, or to nap in after a hearty meal of Rôties au jus de cuisson et la sauce à la menthe compliquée moelle stupide lapin.

Ironically, as we drove around looking for the chair, he enjoyed listening to some of the playlists he worries about me making. In particular, a sort-of New Wave playlist which features things like:












…All of which sounds right well when roving for recliners. And we found one! An immense, white chair – roughly the size of my last apartment – and upholstered in recycled, Italian leather. It’s certain to be the cat’s new, favorite chew-toy.

Later in the evening, the boyfriend and I cuddled and watched an animation double feature: 9, directed by Shane Acker, and Fantastic Mr. Fox, directed by Wes Anderson.

My Ma taught me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all, so let me say how much I loved Fantastic Mr. Fox, and leave it at that. (Come to think of it, my Ma also taught me that if you see a summer’s rainbow while you’re walking on grass it means your baby will be born with freckles, but if it’s autumn, your baby will be born with a snaggletooth and desire to overthrow the government in lieu of a militarized ochlocracy – which may be why I never make babies or go outside in November.)


My new, celebrity crush

Incidentally, Fantastic Mr. Fox has not yet been released on DVD. The boyfriend and I were able to watch it in the comfort of our own home because… um… we have… we know this guy who… err… because sometimes there’s things that happen and as a result there’s stuff, okay? But when it is available on DVD and Blu-ray, Amoeba Music will have it and, if you haven’t yet seen it, do, because it’s almost as delightful as the look in your eyes when you’re licking butter from a hamster’s skull.

I’m really sorry I wrote that. Obviously I can’t be trusted with these sentences. I’ll stop soon.

It was a romantic day for me and my boyfriend. I’ll end this blog with a recording of “our” song, Cole Porter’s ballad, Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye, as performed by Nina Simone.

Goodbye!

Happy 40th birthday Sesame Street!

Posted by Whitmore, November 10, 2009 10:40am | Post a Comment
There have been 4212 episodes.
 
The letter E has been featured 150 times.
 
There are 6 steps on the stoop at 123 Sesame Street.
 
There are an estimated 100,000 different Sesame Street products sold world wide.
 
There are 368 bottle caps are in Bert’s collection.
 
Over 440 celebrities have appeared on the show.
 
Jim Henson Company has built over 5000 puppets for the show.
 
Big Bird is 8 ft 2 in. tall; he’s been played since episode 1 by Caroll Spinney, age 75; he also does Oscar. The costume is made up of nearly 6,000 feathers.
 
Big Bird is perpetually 6 years old. 
 
The original 7 characters: Big Bird, Oscar, Kermit, Grover, Bert, Ernie and Cookie Monster. 
 
Elmo is years old. He’s been on the show for 25 years.
 
2 days before its premiere, a 30-minute preview entitled This Way to Sesame Street was shown on NBC. The show was financed by a $50,000 grant from Xerox.
 
For its debut Sesame Street reached only 67.6% of the nation, but earned a 3.3 Nielsen rating, or 1.9 million households.
 
By 1979, 9 million American children under the age of 6 were watching Sesame Street daily. 4 out of 5 children had watched it over a 6-week period, and 90% of children from low-income inner-city homes regularly viewed the show.
 
There are 20 international independent versions and is broadcast in over 140 countries.
 
Sesame Street has won 122 Emmy awards, the most ever for 1 show. 
 
All the Muppets have 4 fingers, except Cookie Monster, who has 5.
 
Sesame Street has 2 stars on Hollywood blvd 1 for Jim Henson, 1 for Big Bird.
 
“Rubber Duckie,” sung by the Muppet character Ernie (voiced by Jim Henson), reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1970.
 
4 First Ladies have appeared on Sesame Street: Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama.
 
Today’s anniversary show will feature H, the 8th letter of the alphabet, and the number 40.




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